An interesting theological debate? Or a trap?
Trying to trip him up? Or genuine questions?
Luke 20:27-38 (CEV)
Life in the Future World
27 The Sadducees did not believe that people would rise to life after death. So some of them came to Jesus 28 and said:
Teacher, Moses wrote that if a married man dies and has no children, his brother should marry the widow. Their first son would then be thought of as the son of the dead brother.
29 There were once seven brothers. The first one married, but died without having any children. 30 The second one married his brother’s widow, and he also died without having any children. 31 The same thing happened to the third one. Finally, all seven brothers married that woman and died without having any children. 32 At last the woman died. 33 When God raises people from death, whose wife will this woman be? All seven brothers had married her.
34 Jesus answered:
The people in this world get married. 35 But in the future world no one who is worthy to rise from death will either marry 36 or die. They will be like the angels and will be God’s children, because they have been raised to life.
37 In the story about the burning bush, Moses clearly shows that people will live again. He said, “The Lord is the God worshiped by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” 38 So the Lord isn’t the God of the dead, but of the living. This means that everyone is alive as far as God is concerned.
So they didn’t believe that people rise to life, yet they had a question to ask – and a clearly ridiculous question at that! If you don’t believe in a resurrected life, why would you worry about who someone would be married to in that life? This question is clearly not about anything other than trying to catch Jesus out, to get him to say something that they can “use in evidence”.
This is all tied up in the questions about Jesus’ authority. It is a power struggle. Is he going to shore up the things that the current religious powers were saying, or was he going to do and say something radical as they suspected?
Jesus wants them to know he is the God of the living not the dead. Faith is about life and now. What happens after will be nothing that we can imagine, the rules will all be different, it’s not life as we know and understand it now – how that is should not worry us now.
There will be an after life – but there is a life now as well. Is Jesus suggesting they worry about that, not their hypothetical scenarios?
It reminds me of the old Christian Aid strapline, “We believe in life before death“. I’m sure that is what Jesus would much rather we worry about…